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Moral concerns regarding the doctrine of the preexistence


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16 hours ago, boblloyd91 said:

In regards to my moral concerns about the preexistence, I agree it's got me thinking about some challenges about how and when evil is allowed. Having said that, I also don't want anyone to think I'm giving any kind of credence to the idea of absolute predestination, or some form of hyper Calvinism which would lead to the idea of double predestination. Now I'm aware that there is a spectrum of opinion about how much predestination is used in someone's salvation, and I don't want to speak for you Erik, but where do you stand in regards to the extent of Predestination? And how much it affects our salvation? I think this would be good to know in future discussions. 

My next thought is regarding Jeremiah 1:5. I actually wasn't using that in the context of an idea of a preexistence, but since you mentioned it, we as LDS weren't the first to put forth this idea. I don't know if you're aware that Origen also had some things to say about the preexistence. Granted many saw his ideas as heretical, but others have seen the same things LDS have seen. Someone else on the board mentioned Teryl Givens book "when souls had wings" as a good overview of the history of the concept of preexistence. I read it a while ago and enjoyed it

Back to my topic, Jeremiah and numerous other biblical scriptures talk of people being called, and of God's foreknowledge of them. Having said this, there are also times when they failed spectacularly and lost their blessings (the two examples I can think of are Saul and Judas). Where I'm going with all this is that it bothers me that there is no seemingly cut and dry answer to how much God is involved in the salvation (and if you think about it condemnation) both spiritually and temporally. Why was Paul spared condemnation on the road to Damascus and given a chance to repent (which he did in a glorious manner) whereas Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for stealing money? This is a conundrum. 

And before anything else is said, yes I've read Romans 9 and it didn't adequately answer my concern. I'm reading through this chapter again as well as Alma 13, we'll see if I get more illumination 

I'm not sure a digression into double predestination would do your OP much service, boblloyd91.  But I will say that with regard to the suffering you see in your workplace and elsewhere, your Bible tells you this is a fallen world.  Creation (including you & me) rebelled against its Creator (God).  And the Earth and its inhabitants were cursed (Genesis 3).  Happily, the story didn't end there!

Your friend John Piper wrote a thoughtful (if somewhat controversial) article immediately following 2007's I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis in which 13 people died and many more were maimed or otherwise seriously injured.  It's worthy of your consideration & has bearing on your topic and some of the concerns you've raised: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/putting-my-daughter-to-bed-two-hours-after-the-bridge-collapsed.

Should time permit, see what you think--particularly his use of Luke chapter 13. 

--Erik   

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I suspect most people believe there was little or no suffering in the preexistence...and they may be right.  It may be the fundamental reason that the third part rebelled...they didn't see the benefits of mortality as worth the pain pretty much everyone suffers in some way, though there are those who suffer much more physically than others.

I wonder though about the existence prior to that.  When we were intelligences (for those who believe we were distinct individuals before being organized as spirits by Father), is there any reason to suppose there wasn't suffering and great suffering at that given?  The scriptures speak of the inequality that existed then (and in my opinion can only be removed by being one with God) and in my opinion this implies varying ability to control oneself and one's environment.  Intelligence may not experience pain in the same way spirits and physical bodies do, but we know that pain exists for those, so why wouldn't it exist for intelligences?

Perhaps the preexistence was in part a time for us to heal from that experience before moving to this one.

-----

There is, imo, no satisfactory solving of the problem of pain.  Believing there is no God does not soften the experience of those who starve to death nor do I believe there is any significant evidence that this belief in no God motivates humanity to do more for others than a belief in a God that teaches us to love our neighbours.  Believing there is a God who will in some way make all right may help those who believe endure both personal pain and the pain that comes from compassion, but faith and trust do not generally remove the physical and emotional pain, at least not in mortality.

It is therefore, imo, simply a matter of choosing how one wants to live with the pain one sees around one.  Choose whatever helps you deal best with it, what allows you to not only continue to function in a chaotic world, but reach out the most to others to sustain them as well.

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On 8/11/2016 at 1:58 PM, Eek! said:

See Mfbukowski's “Chess Master” analogy, one of the best insights I have ever read, starting about halfway down this post:

That's my opinion anyway.

That wasn't mine- it was William James and I think I said that but thanks anyway

Edited by mfbukowski
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7 hours ago, Teancum said:

For me, and many others, the problem of evil and suffering is difficult to reconcile with an interactive loving theistic God. For others they are satisfied with simple answers and some of those are reflected here. And that is fine and I don't mean it critically.   Others have thought through the issue probably more than I have and find some satisfactory answers.   Others don't . Others keep simple faith and figure it will all work out in the end.  Answers that used to work for me, and some have been given here, no longer do work for me.

I haven't weighed in on this issue because I think it is a moot point based on the idea that free will is incompatible with determinism.

It is not.

Quote

 

Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, and that it is possible to believe in both without being logically inconsistent.[1] Compatibilists believe freedom can be present or absent in situations for reasons that have nothing to do with metaphysics.[2] They define free will as freedom to act according to one's motives without arbitrary hindrance from other individuals or institutions.

For example, courts of law make judgments, without bringing in metaphysics, about whether an individual was acting of their own free will in specific circumstances. It is assumed in a court of law that someone could have done otherwise than they did—otherwise no crime would have been committed.

Similarly, political liberty is a non-metaphysical concept.[3] Statements of political liberty, such as the United States Bill of Rights, assume moral liberty, i.e. the ability to choose to do otherwise than one does.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

Karma is just a proxy for the idea that "you get what you deserve" just as you would in a court of law and is not determinism

Edited by mfbukowski
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1 hour ago, Five Solas said:

I'm not sure a digression into double predestination would do your OP much service, boblloyd91.  But I will say that with regard to the suffering you see in your workplace and elsewhere, your Bible tells you this is a fallen world.  Creation (including you & me) rebelled against its Creator (God).  And the Earth and its inhabitants were cursed (Genesis 3).  Happily, the story didn't end there!

Your friend John Piper wrote a thoughtful (if somewhat controversial) article immediately following 2007's I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis in which 13 people died and many more were maimed or otherwise seriously injured.  It's worthy of your consideration & has bearing on your topic and some of the concerns you've raised: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/putting-my-daughter-to-bed-two-hours-after-the-bridge-collapsed.

Should time permit, see what you think--particularly his use of Luke chapter 13. 

--Erik   

Thanks for that, I read it and agreed with a few of the points he brought up. If you ever have more articles to share please know I'm game (for the most part). However, I can't say it adequately addresses my concerns. If I recall he said some similar things after the Newtown elementary school shootings. I hear a lot of Jonathan Edwards in his writings, and while I do agree that it is ultimately God who sets the bounds of our life, I feel that there is a great deal of victim blaming going on (on Piper's part) Luke 13 was referenced to be sure, and the discussion on repentance was important. This would be good in the context of people who were accountable and were in need of repentance (which most of us are) however it doesn't address the pain that young children I have met with have had to deal with and in fact would seem callous to consider telling a young child that their pain is irrelevant because of their sinful nature. I totally agree with your statement about this being a fallen world.

So to sum up Erik, I have mixed feelings about the article and could relate to it more on the level of being ready and penitent rather than addressing the inequities and pain of life. By the way if you'd like you can just call me Bob.

 

Edited by boblloyd91
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40 minutes ago, Calm said:

I suspect most people believe there was little or no suffering in the preexistence...and they may be right.  It may be the fundamental reason that the third part rebelled...they didn't see the benefits of mortality as worth the pain pretty much everyone suffers in some way, though there are those who suffer much more physically than others.

I wonder though about the existence prior to that.  When we were intelligences (for those who believe we were distinct individuals before being organized as spirits by Father), is there any reason to suppose there wasn't suffering and great suffering at that given?  The scriptures speak of the inequality that existed then (and in my opinion can only be removed by being one with God) and in my opinion this implies varying ability to control oneself and one's environment.  Intelligence may not experience pain in the same way spirits and physical bodies do, but we know that pain exists for those, so why wouldn't it exist for intelligences?

Perhaps the preexistence was in part a time for us to heal from that experience before moving to this one.

-----

There is, imo, no satisfactory solving of the problem of pain.  Believing there is no God does not soften the experience of those who starve to death nor do I believe there is any significant evidence that this belief in no God motivates humanity to do more for others than a belief in a God that teaches us to love our neighbours.  Believing there is a God who will in some way make all right may help those who believe endure both personal pain and the pain that comes from compassion, but faith and trust do not generally remove the physical and emotional pain, at least not in mortality.

It is therefore, imo, simply a matter of choosing how one wants to live with the pain one sees around one.  Choose whatever helps you deal best with it, what allows you to not only continue to function in a chaotic world, but reach out the most to others to sustain them as well.

I like that👌

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6 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

This question is valid, and there is only one response I can give that makes any sense to me.
That we are NOT all equal when placed into this world - that our place in this world is determined based on laws obeyed in pre-mortality. 

Not on sins and errors that this life should be a punishment (Christ said that doesn't happen).  And I don't think the next life will be punishment for sin either but a natural placement based on laws followed and principles agreed to.

Why the transition from premortality to mortality whould operate on any different principle than the transition from mortality to resurrected eternity I do not know.

If God placed all of us in heaven with him and hell did not exist then we would all be in the happy same position in the next life. 
But that is not what will happen.  And if we had a veil of forgetfulness over this life when going to the next life I think I would have the same questions there about the condition of those in the Telestial and Terrestrial as you have here.
 

Which vantage point matters?  Reality or perception?

1:.  Based on your first few paragraphs does this mean you would choose to feed two of your children but starve the other two based on good and bad behavior? 

2: re vantage point reality matters and the reality is we leave in a time situation where our lives seem to us to be much longer than an alleged few hours of of God's time.

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7 hours ago, waveslider said:

If I had four children, and I had the power to make all suffering and death only a temporary thing, knowing that the benefits far outweigh any suffering involved, if they but choose to follow my plan, and they voluntarily, even excitedly (see Job 38:7) chose to gain these experiences that are needed in mortality in order to grow up, all while knowing full well that suffering pain and even death were a part of it, I would allow them that growth rather than being a helicopter parent, trying to insulate them from any problems, thereby stunting any ability for them to learn and grow from these experiences, and in essence damning any further progress they could make in growing up to their full potential as sons and daughters of a loving parent. Besides any suffering any of them experience isn't going to be anywhere near the one son who chose to come and suffer the absolute worse things than any other person on the entire Earth, in order to fix the problems that the others will bring upon themselves by disobeying my parental plan, again completely voluntarily.

Is it bad to have say a military person decide to sacrifice his life in order to save all the rest of his fellow warriors, in a combat situation? Or would it be better to have him just cower in fear for self preservation, in an every man for himself situation? I say the warrior who would die protecting those whom he cares about, is the real hero. I personally think that many of those who were placed on this Earth in bad circumstances did so voluntarily, not only in order to learn and grow in ways that an insulated and safe life would bring, but also to allow opportunities for others' who have been given a safe and insulated life, in the lap of luxury, an opportunity to learn and grow by offering sacrifice and help in the form of aid, support and prayers, etc., even if they don't ever learn how to not just be self centered spoiled brats. I tend to think that many of these souls who are born into the worst of circumstances were actually heroes in the pre-Earth life, not just those who were the less valiant. Perhaps those who were brought into the lap of luxury were really the weaker souls that didn't even learn the lessons that being selfless is really the better way to be, and are still just trying to learn that basic lesson in growth before they can grow to the point where others who were born into what appears to be less favorable circumstances have already learned so much so that it is just part of their personalities already, and being born into the lap of luxury would only stagnate their growth. I know that not everyone fits into just one of these two categories of people, but I do find that some of the most kind and special souls are those who live in the humblest of conditions. I tend to feel that there is no such thing as luck and all was done to place people in the situations that would afford the most amount of growth and love on highly a personalized basis, for all involved. Whether we choose to grow, or not all depends on our own free agency of choice, and none of us were born without guidance in the form of the Light Of Christ, or in other words a conscience. But that is just my two cents worth anyway.

I am not sure you really are getting to the gist of me question. I am talking not about being a helicopter parent and not some grand plan. I am talking about a simple realistic choice,.  If you had four children that you love equally would you  randomly chose to feed two and let two starve.

i understand the idea of suffering and pain being a refiners fire and that trials can teach us or help us to develop what we might call the divine or Christ like attributes.   And I have a certain sympathy to that having I beleive received benefits from some personal trails and challenges.   On the other hand if we believe trials and suffering make us grow we at the same time don't purposefully seek such things nor intentionally inflict them on our own children.

Edited by Teancum
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10 minutes ago, Teancum said:

I am not sure you really are getting to the gist of me question. I am talking about being a helicopter parent not some grand plan. I am talking about a simple realistic choice,.  If you had four children that you love equally would you  randomly chose to feed two and let two starve.

i understand the idea od suffering and pain being a refiners fire and that trials can teach us or help us to develop what we might call th divine or Christ like attributes.   And I have a certain sympathy to that having I beleive received benefits from some personal trails and challenges.   On the other hand if we believe trials and suffering make us grow we at the same time don't purposefully seek such things nor intentionally inflict them on our own children..

Being a helicopter parent is never a good thing in the long run of things. If you insulate your kids from the realities of life, they will never, ever learn how to deal with those realities by themselves, and most of the time parents die before their kids do so they inevitably will end up on their own eventually without you there to protect them any longer. How loving is that, to put out a kid into a world without a clue how to cope with that world? Who is more healthy, a person who is catered to with every whim and desire, or a person who actually has to get off the couch and do something in order to live? What plant is strong enough to deal with a big storm if it isn't ever trimmed or pruned, and was never subjected to strong winds enough to make it grow a stronger root system in comparison to it's top portion? What body builder gets big muscles if he never lifts a weight in his life?

I think we have a very limited view of what's good for ourselves. We can't even remember our mindset before we were even born here, into the circumstances that we chose (nothing random about it) to take on by following God's plan. We also don't even realize that we live forever and that what seems the most important in this life now generally has little importance in the long run of an eternal being, who will live forever. Put it this way. If you were three years old and you could choose whatever you wanted to eat for all your meals for the next week, would you pick what you needed, or would it all be just a bunch of non nutritious garbage, like candy, gum, soda and ice cream. The parent who says you need to eat all of your vegetables before you can have any desert, is viewed as a non caring tyrant in the eyes of the kid who thinks it is unfair. Yet when that kid matures, that kid ends up being grateful for being taught to eat healthy or, if not taught that, feels unloved by a non caring parent who didn't even care enough to deal with discomforting a kid, thereby creating someone who is so unhealthy that they will probable have a poor quality of life, for the short duration they will have left, from all the complications of eating only junk in the growing years.

There needs to be a balance in decision making besides just those based off of emotion. Logic needs to outweigh emotional desires often times because those emotional desires aren't based in reality enough to guide us properly. By the same token purely logical decisions aren't good either by themselves, since we don't have all the information availible to us to truly be logical about it all. Knee jerk reactions are almost never a good thing no matter how much those reactions feel good as we start to do them. Likewise ignorant logic won't get us too far either, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit of truth.

I would never randomly let any of my kids starve, but if they so chose to get themselves in a situation where they would be pourly fed in order to never starve again for the rest of their lives, I would certainly allow it. It is much better than just forcing everyone to live in the lap of luxury, therby starving them spiritually for the rest of eternity. That was Satan's plan to force it upon everyone. It's wrong and even if you can't see it now, you will see the flaw in that line of thinking when the consequences of following that plan over God's plan are finally faced.

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37 minutes ago, waveslider said:

Being a helicopter parent is never a good thing in the long run of things. If you insulate your kids from the realities of life, they will never, ever learn how to deal with those realities by themselves, and most of the time parents die before their kids do so they inevitably will end up on their own eventually without you there to protect them any longer. How loving is that, to put out a kid into a world without a clue how to cope with that world? Who is more healthy, a person who is catered to with every whim and desire, or a person who actually has to get off the couch and do something in order to live? What plant is strong enough to deal with a big storm if it isn't ever trimmed or pruned, and was never subjected to strong winds enough to make it grow a stronger root system in comparison to it's top portion? What body builder gets big muscles if he never lifts a weight in his life?

I think we have a very limited view of what's good for ourselves. We can't even remember our mindset before we were even born here, into the circumstances that we chose (nothing random about it) to take on by following God's plan. We also don't even realize that we live forever and that what seems the most important in this life now generally has little importance in the long run of an eternal being, who will live forever. Put it this way. If you were three years old and you could choose whatever you wanted to eat for all your meals for the next week, would you pick what you needed, or would it all be just a bunch of non nutritious garbage, like candy, gum, soda and ice cream. The parent who says you need to eat all of your vegetables before you can have any desert, is viewed as a non caring tyrant in the eyes of the kid who thinks it is unfair. Yet when that kid matures, that kid ends up being grateful for being taught to eat healthy or, if not taught that, feels unloved by a non caring parent who didn't even care enough to deal with discomforting a kid, thereby creating someone who is so unhealthy that they will probable have a poor quality of life, for the short duration they will have left, from all the complications of eating only junk in the growing years.

There needs to be a balance in decision making besides just those based off of emotion. Logic needs to outweigh emotional desires often times because those emotional desires aren't based in reality enough to guide us properly. By the same token purely logical decisions aren't good either by themselves, since we don't have all the information availible to us to truly be logical about it all. Knee jerk reactions are almost never a good thing no matter how much those reactions feel good as we start to do them. Likewise ignorant logic won't get us too far either, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit of truth.

I would never randomly let any of my kids starve, but if they so chose to get themselves in a situation where they would be pourly fed in order to never starve again for the rest of their lives, I would certainly allow it. It is much better than just forcing everyone to live in the lap of luxury, therby starving them spiritually for the rest of eternity. That was Satan's plan to force it upon everyone. It's wrong and even if you can't see it now, you will see the flaw in that line of thinking when the consequences of following that plan over God's plan are finally faced.

I am sorry I typed my last response in error.  I meant to say I am not talking about being a helicopter parent.  

But you still miss the point.   While you may let your child suffer the consequences of their own bad choices.   That is not my point.   God, if God exists has either randomly allowed, or intentionally imposed upon , and the point is moot if God is all powerful, many of his sentient creations, his children in LDS doctrine, to be born into hideous conditions of deprecation and suffering.  Suffering you and I will likely never experience. Personally as a father I would never knowingly just put one of my children in such dire living conditions.  To what end really?  It seems perhaps you would?

15 years ago I had a severe year if battling cancer.  It actually was one of the more spiritual years of my life even though I suffered horribly from the surgeries and treatment.   Two years later my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.  A close LDS friend sent us a letter at that time and said "God must really love you both to give you another trial."  Honestly I thought it was one of the dumbest things I had heard from a Latter-day Saint.   I thought well gee, I guess if I love my kids maybe I should take them out in the street and beat then once a week.

i understand some suffering comes through the poor choices of others and if free will is real this is tough to get around.  Though I do wonder why the agency of some who commit horrendous acts of evil is more important than the agency of those whose lives they snuff out.  But the incredible level of suffering that can come just from where or when a person is born, from natural disasters and so on are, from being born with genetic decencies that can cause all sorts of suffering.   I just cannot reconcile such thing with a theistic God that allegedly according to scripture  from time to time intervnes in such things but typically only when it meets his ends and often it has been in rather capricious ways.

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1 hour ago, Teancum said:

I am sorry I typed my last response in error.  I meant to say I am not talking about being a helicopter parent.  

But you still miss the point.   While you may let your child suffer the consequences of their own bad choices.   That is not my point.   God, if God exists has either randomly allowed, or intentionally imposed upon , and the point is moot if God is all powerful, many of his sentient creations, his children in LDS doctrine, to be born into hideous conditions of deprecation and suffering.  Suffering you and I will likely never experience. Personally as a father I would never knowingly just put one of my children in such dire living conditions.  To what end really?  It seems perhaps you would?

15 years ago I had a severe year if battling cancer.  It actually was one of the more spiritual years of my life even though I suffered horribly from the surgeries and treatment.   Two years later my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.  A close LDS friend sent us a letter at that time and said "God must really love you both to give you another trial."  Honestly I thought it was one of the dumbest things I had heard from a Latter-day Saint.   I thought well gee, I guess if I love my kids maybe I should take them out in the street and beat then once a week.

i understand some suffering comes through the poor choices of others and if free will is real this is tough to get around.  Though I do wonder why the agency of some who commit horrendous acts of evil is more important than the agency of those whose lives they snuff out.  But the incredible level of suffering that can come just from where or when a person is born, from natural disasters and so on are, from being born with genetic decencies that can cause all sorts of suffering.   I just cannot reconcile such thing with a theistic God that allegedly according to scripture  from time to time intervnes in such things but typically only when it meets his ends and often it has been in rather capricious ways.

I think I get your drift, especially now that the helicopter parent thing was cleared up. I still feel like the problem lies with our limited perception of things, which skews our perception of what true justice and mercy should be. There are scriptures that help us to understand these types of things, like for instance:

"8  And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire.
9  And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.
10  And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
11  But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day."
Alma 14:8-11

It seems that Amulek had the similar types of reservations that you are having, about how just it is for other people to be suffering because of other peoples' wickedness. With this type of explanation that Alma gives, it makes sense since if God just stopped the violence and then at the judgement they wouldn't be able to be given a higher position in God's kingdom above the Telestial, or wherever they need to go. There are a number of things we aren't taking into account because we aren't even aware of the true ramifications of our actions and how they apply to our circumstances.

Edited by waveslider
mispell
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